FOR many the turkey is the most important bit about Christmas lunch.
It's a hefty weight on the host's shoulders to get right, making sure they serve a juicy bird along with all the other seasonal favourites.
Undercook it and the obvious risk is making everyone ill, while overcooking it could leave you with a burnt disaster of a dish.
Little do most of us know, there is actually a science to achieving the perfect turkey roast.
Dr Peter Barham, an emeritus professor of physics for the University of Bristol, has revealed what really happens during the cooking process.
Muscle fibres in the meat start to denature when the heat is about 40ºC (104°F) or more, causing them to coil up and contract a bit.
But connective tissues that keep muscle close to the bone like collagen are harder for us to bite through and only become digestible from 60°C (140°F).
So you need to meet somewhere in the middle to perfect both bits.
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You also must consider the fats and water – if loads of water is lost during cooking the meat will seem dry.
And then there's the all important flavour.
So how can you possibly cook each bit to perfection with different temperatures in play, if you're aiming for an impressive entire turkey in the middle of the table?
Dr Barham told Phys.org he likes to cover the more delicate breasts with aluminium foil to prevent overcooking them.
Remove the foil towards the end of the cooking.
Keep stocking under the turkey throughout to ensure few juices are being evaporated.
The oven will need to be at a higher temperature of about 160°C/320°F than the turkey, so there will always be a temperature gradient.
It'll be ready when the parts furthest from the outside reach the desired temperature, so have a meat thermometer to check.
Time is a little trickier to get right because it'll depend on the size.
It can range from two and a half hours for a 4-5kg bird, all the way up to four and a half hours for 9-10kgs.
But the key really is to keep an eye on the internal temperature. It needs to reach 74°C/165°F to be safe for eating.
Read more turkey cooking tips here.
In other news, scientists have figured out how fast a type of dinosaur could run – and it would have given Usain Bolt a run for his money.
Google has confirmed that some of its smartphones are unable to call emergency services due to a software bug.
And an iPhone update could reveal if you were scammed when getting a repair done.
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